For most of us, a day spent in the mountains, the woods, or at the beach always seems like a good day. Communing with nature tends to make us feel better.
A recent study at Oregon State University looked into this subject and their data demonstrates that a variety of mechanisms for engaging nature significantly contribute to a person’s overall well-being.
Apart from actually engaging with the natural environment directly, people were even happier when they felt that their surrounding environments were being well-managed.
The study used 13 different metrics to illustrate the relationship between overall life satisfaction and our relationship with the natural environment. Among these metrics were community activities, access to wild resources, outdoor recreation, psychological benefits such as stress eased by time outdoors, and trust in policymakers with respect to the environment.
There have been many studies linking ecological conditions such as drinking water and air quality with objective well-being, but there have been less attention paid to the connection between various aspects of engaging the natural environment and overall subjective well-being. The Oregon State study wanted to identify the relative importance of diverse, nature-oriented experiences on a person’s overall life satisfaction assessment and try to statistically prove the relationship between happiness and life satisfaction and engaging with nature in multiple ways. The study found a positive correlation between 11 of their 13 metrics and overall life satisfaction.
So, if we somehow still need an excuse for heading for the beach, the woods, the lake, or the mountains, and in case we hadn’t already figured it out, this study informs us that if we get out there in nature, we will be happier people. So off we go!
Engagement with natural environment a significant contributor to life satisfaction
Photo, posted April 19, 2014, courtesy of Loren Kerns via Flickr.
‘Nature is Satisfying’ from Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.